Shahbaz retracts, a little too late


Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif strongly denied he had demanded that Karachi be made a separate province, but his “retraction” came too late as assailants allegedly belonging to the Sindh National Party (SNP) attacked the PML-N provincial office in Karachi and tore apart a restaurant owned by PML-N leader Sardar Abdul Raheem. In a statement, Shahbaz clarified that he had told reporters on Sunday that the PML-N was not opposed to the creation of a Seraiki province or Bahawalpur province, but as a national party it would decide the issue of the creation of new provinces at the party level and it would also be decided where else in Pakistan new provinces could be created, and whether Karachi should also be made a new province or not.
He said his comments had been intentionally and unintentionally been misinterpreted, which had hurt him personally. In Karachi, however, the SNP was quick on the uptake as, according to PML-N leader Ali Akbar Gujjar, a group of eight to ten people arrived at Raheem’s restaurant and ransacked it, breaking windows and assaulting the guards on duty at that time. They also tore down posters of PML-N leaders. The guard present at the party’s head office told police the attackers were pumping each other up with rhetoric and wanted to set fire to the office, but stopped short of it.
According to a SNP leader, however, his party’s workers had taken out a protest rally from Korangi against Shahbaz Sharif’s statement, and the rally was en route to Karachi Press Club when the armed men opened fire on the participants outside the restaurant, injuring eight of them. He said SNP workers were also lodging a FIR against Rahim and his associates.

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